Enlightenment, Culture, Leisure: Houses of Culture in Czechoslovakia

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The publication Enlightenment, Culture, Leisure: Houses of Culture in Czechoslovakia is the first book that provides a comprehensive overview of the creation of a nationwide network of houses of culture that were systematically established during the period of state socialism in the former Czechoslovakia. As places of public life in post-war society, these buildings enjoyed generous economic, political and legislative support. In addition to their specific typology, the book also looks at the educational and emancipatory potential of houses of culture and their role in the organization and control of leisure time. The publication also takes in the programmatic precursors of this type of cultural and social institution dating back to the nineteenth-century and the inter-war period (clubhouses, national or workers’ houses), as well as overlaps into the period after 1989, when buildings and their operators had to, and sometimes still have to, cope with the demands of modernisation. The book covers both the Czech and Slovak context of the construction of houses of culture, which not only manages to cover the entire territory of the former Czechoslovakia, but also to capture the different historical experiences.

The book is a combination of academic texts complemented with photographs by Oskar Helcel and Martin Netočný. The series of photographs divide the texts into four parts or clusters. The first of these focuses on historical prototypes to be found in the Czech lands and Slovakia from the nineteenth-century onwards, and the second on practical issues linked with construction activities in the period of state socialism. The third section traces the history and transformation of houses of culture in the Czech lands from the Second World War to the 1990s. The fourth cluster then examines the phenomenon as it appeared in Slovakia and contains two case studies, one from Slovakia and one from the Czech Republic. Individual texts are accompanied by period and archival reproductions, many of which have been published for the first time.

The book is published by VI PER Gallery in cooperation with the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, 2023.


Editors: Michaela Janečková, Irena Lehkoživová
Concept: Oskar Helcel, Michaela Janečková, Irena Lehkoživová, Martin Netočný
Texts: Jiří Andrs, Jan Galeta, Hubert Guzik, Katarína Haberlandová, Michaela Janečková, Laura Krišteková, Josef Ledvina, Irena Lehkoživová, Henrieta Moravčíková, Peter Szalay, Karel Šima, Jitka Šosová, Lukáš Veverka, Jan Zikmund
Preface: David Crowley
Photography: Oskar Helcel, Martin Netočný
Graphic design: Tereza Hejmová, Adéla Svobodová
Edition: First
Pages: 888
Size: 16×12 cm

The book is available in Czech and English.
Czech edition: ISBN 978-80-908433-3-2 (Galerie VI PER), ISBN 978-80-88308-88-1 (Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová v Praze)
English edition: ISBN 978-80-908433-4-9 (VI PER Gallery), ISBN 978-80-88308-97-3 (Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague)

Supported by the Ministry of Culture Czech Republic and State Funds of the Czech Republic.

















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